The Sexist

Miss D.C. Talks Groping; NBC 4 Is Shocked and Confused

View more news videos at:

Miss D.C. Jen Corey discusses defending herself against gropers with body-slams and head-locks on NBC4. AWESOME. She also makes some really important points about public sexual assault:

"It doesn't just happen at bars, either—it's happened to me at the grocery store, it happens to me on my lunch break in Georgetown, and it's just demeaning, and it's disrespectful, and it scares you, which is the biggest thing," Corey says. "The big thing that's upset me the most is people say, 'Oh, you're at a bar or you're out in public, you should accept the fact that that's going to happen.' And that's not OK."

The disappointing part of the interview is the reporter, who frames groping as a newly emerging and unexplainable trend. Her line of questioning: "Why do you think this is? . . . Where was this? . . . Who knew? Is this a new thing? Is this something you started seeing in college that is now accelerating?" To her credit, Corey handles the feigned disbelief well: "No. This started happening to me as soon as I started hitting puberty. As soon as I got tall enough, guys would yell things to me from the car, and now that I'm out in public more often, I get grabbed a lot."

Corey's headline-making body-slams aside ("I'm lucky because I'm almost six feet tall"), the queen presents a variety of groping response tactics in her four-minute interview: physical self-defense, verbal responses, getting quickly to safety, reporting the incident to authorities, and even hollering back.  "I want girls to know that it's okay to tell people and say something out loud," she says. "The biggest thing is that it's so underreported. . . . This has happened to me dozens of times, and I've never once reported it."

  • tigerflight

    I don't mean to sound this the wrong way, but c'mon wendy no one's ever grabbed you before? do you think NBC4 asked her to play dumb/shocked?

    i think it's stupid to pretend like this is a "new trend". Not only stupid, but kind of dangerous because trends (hopefully) go away (i'm looking at you lower back tattoos)

  • Hkearl

    I thought Jen did a great job, too. She did an interview for me about her street harassment experiences and it's on my blog: I'm very glad she's speaking out - and speaking so articulately and smartly - about this issue!

  • Lizrd

    "In our area??" hahaha! In every crevice of the country! That woman reporter has to know, right? There's no way that she has gone through her life and not experienced it, in some form. The only thing I can think is that maybe some women are so trained to just expect that kind of treatment as a part of every day life, that they fail to recognize it as the violation of bodily integrity that it is.

    Jen Corey is giving me some for-real-late-nineties "Girl Power!" enthusiasm. If all pageants were producing these kinds of spokeswomen, it might temper my virulent distaste for them.

  • Lindsay

    Wow, what an awesome Miss DC!

  • J

    Wendy is a beautiful blond - I call her bluff if its never happened to her. When Im in the car I hear guys yell at women all the time. My mom whos in her mid 60s was hit on twice at the grocery store in the last year

  • Amanda Hess

    Hkearl: Thanks! I love how she makes the explicit connection between verbal street harassment and public sexual assault.

    Lizrd: I think that for reporters there is often a marked disconnect between personal experience and professional role (a standard of 'objectivity' actually encourages this disconnect, though I wouldn't say that local news channels are very committed to covering stuff like sexual assault 'objectively'). She may know very well personally that this happens constantly, and she may have experienced it herself, but she's a local news veteran, and local news culture treats sexual assault with a sensationalist approach. I'm sure that the writers and reporters adopt this attitude without even thinking, because this is just the way you report on these things. :(

  • groggette

    Thanks for linking your interview, that was great!

  • Callie

    How great that she's being so public and articulate about this. She presented it so well and she's right - it's important to talk about. I honestly think that a lot of the guys doing this kind of harassment genuinely don't realize how wrong it is, and the more we talk about it and the more it's made evident how not-ok it is, the more those guys will go away.

    Good for her, putting a guy in a headlock.

  • kza

    I'm usually in favor of reportingthings to the police but her body slamming technique seems to be a good substitute.

  • anon

    A NEW trend. Ahahahahahaha! Oh, good lord. I once had a g/f who literally caused a traffic accident as we walked down the street in Baltimore. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries. :)

  • Rick Mangus

    Oh, Amanda you were doing so good in the past week having stories on other topics but you can't get away from GROPING! Just like a drug addict you can't put it down, can you?

  • EmilyBites

    This is hugely impressive. Jen Corey is so articulate, so rational, and so right. I too was really, really pleased that she uncompromisingly identified the relationship between public verbal and physical harassment, which some people deny, and pointed out that they both have at their core the desire to 'scare' and 'demean' women. It's a spectrum, and it goes from whistling to rape, whether or not the whistlers and the rapists are different men.

  • Hkearl

    ABC did a story last night too: and they also interviewed a few other women in Georgetown about harassment & groping.

  • squirrely girl

    anon - Not to burst your bubble as I'm sure your g/f was hot, but she didn't cause the accident... drivers not paying attention or rather paying attention to the wrong thing caused the accident. Hot chicks don't cause accidents with their hotness. :)

  • Sarah

    A guy once hit the car in front of him b/c he was trying so hard to get my attention while I was standing at a bus stop ... it was definitely not because I was too hot to handle. I was wearing an oversized raincoat at the time. Since it wasn't a serious accident at all, I found it pretty funny and hoped the guy learned a lesson about leering at women rather than watching the road.

  • Lizrd

    @Amanda Yeah, good point. I guess she couldn't exactly be like "oh my god, it happens to me all the time too... what a bunch a douche bags" Otherwise its just a televised Jen Corey-Wendy Reiger slumber party.

  • Amanda Hess

    @Lizrd then again wouldn't that be kind of awesome?

    I hardly ever watch TV news, but when I do check out local stuff, any story that involves the suggestion of sex + women is made into this huge sensational to-do, either on the side of (a) gasp, how could it happen "here"? or (b) look at these irresponsible sluts bein' slutty. Gasp-how-could-it-happen-here gains points for at least taking sexual assault seriously, but that's usually negated by the high levels of denial.

  • Lizrd

    YES! Even a slight acknowledgment from Wendy of this experience being a shared one for most women would do well to prevent the audience from mistakenly gleaning from this interview that "Only beauty queens are groped" or something equally less helpful.

    Of course, the idea of two women on TV talking about shared experiences in a setting not mangled by Elizabeth Hasselback with an audience that isn't expected to be solely middle aged housewives sort of excites me....

  • http://twitter/scaryjoann scary joann

    Awesome piece, I was glad to read it.

  • Thomas MacAulay Millar

    My thoughts, and a friend's very recent first-person account:

  • Golden Silence

    I've seen the interview as well and thought Jen handled herself pretty well. The interviewer, on the other hand, sounded unprepared and stuttered too much for my tastes.

  • Em

    Good on her! I'm so happy to see this--I think all women should know some type of self-defense, not because it necessarily enables us to beat someone up twice our size (it doesn't) but because most people grabbing your ass do NOT expect you to fight back. When you do, they're usually so stunned that if they were going to go farther with it, you can get away.

    The more gropers we surprise like that, I feel like it'll start to make an impact on their psyches, and make them realize this is not a risk-free offense.

  • b-bop

    Thank-you, Jen Corey.

  • Christa

    God, Jen Corey handled that so well. I think if I would have been the one getting interviewed I would have punched that stupid reporter in the face.

    I also think its great that Miss DC is speaking out about this. I agree with Lizrd perhaps using Jen as the face of street harassment can be misleading (and judging from some of the above comments I don't think i'm wrong). MOST (I hazard to say ALL) women have been harassed in public spaces regardless of how they look.

  • m Andrea

    When I was much younger, this happened to me ALL THE TIME. After several years of it (because hey I was trained to be docile) I unconsciously changed my tactics out of sheer bottled-up frustration. Among other dynamics (objectifying females, reducing us to objects there for their pleasure, etc) most of these guys who would harass women are BULLIES. These are not people who take "no" for an answer.

    But they are quite predictable in the same way in which all bullies respond to certain stimuli. Which is why I object to the instructions to "tell someone". The only thing that advice does is send the message that females should passively accept whatever jerky behavior he chooses to throw at her and wait for help like a damsel in distress. In a bar, or on the street, that kind of advice is likely to result in ZERO CONSEQUENCES for the bully because he's gone by the time help shows up -- which is why they repeat their behavior over and over again. If you want bullies to stop, then they need an actual consequence.

    As soon as I would get right in their face with an anger so explosive that it was obvious I was prepared to rip them limb from friggin' limb right there, and I was prepared to fight to the friggin' bloody death and I do mean that literally... they would run away. That was a consequence they didn't like, and weren't as likely to repeat with yet another victim because I introduced the idea into their tiny little heads that they could no longer expect a female to passively accept their jerky behavior.

    They were out for some "harmless" fun with a THING who wouldn't fight back, and as soon as they saw how it was going to go down, they decided their "fun" wasn't worth the consequences. I would do the same thing whenever I saw it happening to another female as well, because by that time I was just permanently ENRAGED that the people whom I was brainwashed from birth to assume were noble and automatically deserving of MY respect, really were deserving of my CONTEMPT.

    Anyway, I couldn't respect a group of people who dehumanized me first, simply because they thought they were (and still are) entitled to do whatever they want, and I've never changed my opinion.

    I'm turning into quite the fan of Amanda Hess, btw. :)

  • Amelia

    It's great when public harassment is reported on in the media. It is something that people hardly ever talk about, but it makes me really mad. The intimidation & fear that it creates is the worst thing. Girls and women should not be made to feel afraid or embarrassed when they are just walking to the grocery store, or walking home from school.

  • Abi

    I'm happy to see this issue get public attention. I too have been groped, rubbed up against, or physically touched in inappropriate ways by strangers in public and I'm not even hot like Miss D.C.! Being pretty in public doesn't give anyone the right to touch you.

  • Pingback: Interview with Holly Kearl: AAUW’s Legal Advocacy Fund Program Manager, Author, and Women’s Rights Activist Fighting Against Street Harassment | Women's Interviews - The Daily Femme